Saturday, December 16, 2017
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Colin cuts into abbreviated red snapper season

American red snapper can thank Tropical Storm Colin for preventing a bunch of them from getting sore mouths. Rain and squalls kept anglers from getting out several days during the already abbreviated nine-day recreational open season ending tonight. Depths of 120-170 feet seemed most productive. Bonus bycatches included red and gag grouper and large mangrove snapper. There were also scattered catches of wahoo and blackfin tuna. With all the enthusiasm surrounding tarpon season, avoiding crowds has become more difficult. But it can be done. With the tarpon ganging up in the channel just north of Bean Point on Anna Maria Island, dozens of boats are jamming in to take advantage. If you're not comfortable playing "bumper boats," there are options. The many miles of gulf beaches between Sand Key in Clearwater and Longboat Key in Sarasota offer endless opportunities. This time of the season, schools of tarpon migrate up and down the beaches. Patiently presenting baits well ahead of the oncoming schools works best. Soon, the big schools will break up into smaller bunches, making them more difficult to detect. Pick a stretch of beach in a depth where you've seen rolling fish and anchor. Chumming heavily will often draw them to you, even if they're not "showing" well. Bays and backwaters attract large bunches of tarpon in their never-ending search for food and are less pressured. My favorite "honey holes" include Port Manatee, Terra Ceia Bay, the Manatee River, Gadsden Point, Rocky Point, Lizard Flats and anywhere else I find them.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

Comments

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas. Bait schools are roaming just a couple of miles offshore, attracting kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have ...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17